Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Hooptedoodle #51 - Not Like Me at All

Thomas Newman

For almost all my life I've loved, played and collected music. I tend to lose critical arguments on the subject, because my tastes are (I think) unusually wide and, because I studied it for so many years, I have been exposed to, and impressed by, all sorts of styles and genres. I also think that the passing years bring a change to one's perception and appreciation - I am less interested in attitude these days (though I have my moments) and more involved by textures and orchestration. I am mystified by the number of sub-categories of contemporary dance music, and can't really see why anyone would be interested enough to go to the trouble of coming up with all those names, but this kind of trainspotting approach to music classification appears to have partly replaced what I would recognise as artistic appreciation. No matter.

I have a very large collection of CDs - visitors might probably be disoriented more by the lack of consistency than anything else. Delius, Robben Ford, Planxty, loads of jazz (whatever the hell that is - anything from King Oliver to John Scofield, but an awful lot of Bill Evans and 1950s be-bop guitarists), 1940s R&B, Cuban bands, on and on. Of late I have been listening to gypsy jazz guitarists, the work of Vince Mendoza, Mendelsohn's symphonies, Tom Waits, Fauré, a lot of baroque concerti, Anthony Wilson - a very mixed bag. I have no axes to grind, it's just stuff that I like.

One thing I have never got much involved with is film music - I've maybe even been slightly prejudiced against it. I have Shostakovich's "Gadfly" on CD and I bought the music from "Gladiator" (because I couldn't get it out of my head), and I have a couple of albums of music from Jacques Tati's films (because it makes me feel happy), but otherwise not much. Music designed to go along with a movie seems, intuitively, to be only part of something. Also, because they are meant to generate a variety of moods and support a wide assortment of dramatic situations in a film, listening to a series of short tracks in quick succession in your living room can be a bit unsettling - they tend not to develop in a symphonic sense.

It is not like me at all, but recently I have become very interested in the hypnotic soundtrack works of Thomas Newman. I was aware of the big hit theme from "American Beauty", and also that he was a very successful composer for film, with a huge back catalogue - I even knew that he was Randy Newman's cousin - but his work had mostly passed me by. I've now bought the soundtrack albums for a number of his films, and I think they are remarkable. Most of the clips for Newman on YouTube feature distracting (and sometimes soppy) trailers from the films, so I've included a clip which shows somebody's Canadian photos - and very nice too.

Not everyone's cup of tea, for sure, and until recently I wouldn't have bothered to listen, but I may have become a fan. Mind you, after an hour or so I'll be digging out my old Steely Dan albums.


  1. He reminds me of Barrington Pheloung - the guy who composed the incidental music for the Inspector Morse/Lewis TV series... heavy on the strings and pathos... lovely when you're in the right mood... Steely Dan - now you're talking.... :o)

    1. Yes - good shout - not unlike. There's also a touch of things like Debussy's "Danse Profane" in there, if a bit more laid back!

  2. A good relaxing music....